Gym targeted by Israel boycotters

By Marcus Dysch, March 5, 2009

A gym which offers free membership to Maccabi GB athletes as they prepare for the Maccabiah Games has been targeted by anti-Israel campaigners.

Stickers proclaiming “Boycott Israeli Goods”, and displaying the Palestinian flag, were placed in changing room lockers at the Village Hotel in Elstree, Hertfordshire.

The company agreed a £250,000 sponsorship package with Maccabi GB in December.

As part of the deal, every member of the British team due to take part in the games in Israel in July was given free access to Village gyms around Britain.

Village director Michael Bibring said staff immediately removed the stickers after they were reported on Wednesday morning.

“We were outraged to discover this anti-Israel propaganda in our locker room and utterly abhor the fact that someone has used our premises to display this literature,” he said.

Meanwhile, a proposed boycott of Israeli-supplied medical devices used by the NHS turned out to be a hoax.

An email message carried the Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods (JBIG) logo and contact details for Deborah Fink, a founding member of the group.

She was quoted as saying: “It is high time we moved away from the rather meagre boycott results achieved — as far as Israeli flowers and tea bags are concerned — and targeted the major Israeli exports arriving in our country, namely medical equipment and pharmaceuticals.”

But a statement from JBIG said the email was a “ridiculous hoax, evidently designed to undermine those Jews campaigning for justice in Palestine”.

The fake message listed Israeli-made drugs and devices used to combat cancer, MS and Parkinson’s, and called on the NHS to cancel orders for innovations such as heart scanners.

It said supporters should put the health of “beleaguered Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank” above their own well-being.

JBIG said the sender of the email, Baldev Singh, appeared to be another incarnation of a hoaxer, thought to be based in Canada, who has previously targeted Jewish activists.

It added: “We have no intention of wasting time and effort in explaining line by line why we would not have issued such rubbish.”

Other names used by the hoaxer are said to have included His Eminence The Very Rev Charles J Edgbaston, Batsheva Waley-Mutawakil, Clyde Strombopoulos and Hilton Anderson.

Last updated: 4:08pm, March 10 2009